The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has released a series of videos to help retailers and their staff as well as members of the public spot and report suspicious purchases and behaviors.
The Be Vigilant series features three videos that walk through the key indicators of suspicious activity that can lead to a bombing event.
In one video, a young woman observes a news report of a bombing that occurred at the local high school the night before, she pays close attention as the news anchor requests for help identifying a suspicious vehicle seen leaving the scene. Later, we see a delivery driver arriving to drop off a package and the young woman meets the driver outside. The two begin discussing the horrific event and eventually, the suspicious activity that has continuously occurred at her neighbor’s home across the street. The young woman recalls that her neighbors parked a similar vehicle in their driveway to the one described on the news, they discuss the strange mannerisms the neighbors have, the suspicious activities that take place, and the trash left outside of their home. The young woman realizes she should have called in the suspicious activity and immediately calls the police.
The next video occurs at a local sports bar and stems from the Suspicious Activity Report submitted by the young woman in the first video. The news anchor announces that a male and female suspect are wanted in connection to the bombing. The four individuals in the video, Mike, Megan, Rich, and Rachel begin discussing the event; and elaborate on how easy it is to purchase certain chemicals and materials from local businesses, and then use those materials to make a bomb. During their discussions, Rich states that many of the chemicals used in historical bombings could have been purchased from Mike (store manager) and Megan’s Pool Supply Store. Criminals, extremists, and terrorists will go to great lengths to secure the items they need to build a bomb; and in this instance – they stole chemicals from Mike and Megan’s pool supply store and Mike did not report the theft during his daily inventory.
The third video occurs at a local hardware store where the store manager, who while watching the news in his office sees the two suspects have been identified and arrested in connection to the bombing attack at the local high school. After the news scene, two of his employees walk in and discuss with their manager that the bomber had been in their store the week before. They tell the manager that the bomber asked for more chemicals, requested the cutting of galvanized pipes, requested endcaps for those pipes, and paid with cash to avoid Credit Card detection. The purchased materials are not vast in quantity but are suspicious due to them being purchased together. Couple this with the bomber’s hesitation in discussion and cash purchase are all indicators of suspicious activity. Had these employees had the knowledge of the possible nefarious usage of the products in their store, they would have had the confidence to report the suspicious purchases and possibly thwart a bombing attack.
The videos are part of the Bomb-Making Materials Awareness Program (BMAP), a counter-terrorism risk management bombing prevention program sponsored by CISA’s Office for Bombing Prevention.